Auction of old Mid-Continent Airport items brings in $83,000

Twenty-two sets of airport seating sold at the auction.
Twenty-two sets of airport seating sold at the auction. Courtesy of PurpleWave

The Wichita Airport Authority is expected to net $83,200 from an auction of miscellaneous items from the old Mid-Continent terminal, city officials said.

People who bought items not only are expected to come and pick them up, but they also must remove the items from where they are in the terminal.

On Tuesday, they came with forklifts, drills, ladders and pry bars to remove their items, which range from bathroom signs to the bar in the lobby to massive walk-in coolers.

The people who bought items in the auction did so for a variety of reasons, from the practical to the more whimsical.

The Kansas Aviation Museum spent about $130 buying all of the shelving and racks that were in the airport gift shop, so that the museum can eventually expand its gift shop, said Daniel Bateman, its executive director.

“For a nonprofit, these type of auctions are a huge deal – for us to outfit a gift store,” he said. “We wouldn’t otherwise be able to go out and afford to buy these things.”

The museum also wanted some original brass lighting fixtures that hung in the atrium, original to the 1953 building, but another couple bought them. The couple, after learning the museum was interested, agreed to donate at least two lights to the museum “so we can have them as an exhibit,” Bateman said.

The museum was also able to pick up the sign that greeted passengers entering the main terminal that read, “Welcome to Wichita, air capital of the world,” Bateman said.

The man who had bought it had only wanted the lighting fixture behind the sign front, Bateman said.

“We ended up getting two of the items we wanted without paying for them, because people understand the historical significance of it,” Bateman said. “It was kind of a double bonus for us.”

Others bought items from the auction just to resell them for scrap parts, Bateman said, as was the case with someone who bought an old baggage claim system.

“I heard one of the guys say they were going to make $4,000 on it, but that includes stripping it and taking to the salvage yard,” Bateman said.

Some people who bid on items at the Purple Wave auction were aviation enthusiasts who wanted to grab a piece of nostalgia while they still could.

Thomas Dang, a local pilot who flew in and out of Mid-Continent several times while working in general aviation, said he won the bid for a set of 10 maroon signs suspended above the two concourses, for $104.50.

He said he is “hoarding aviation memorabilia for my future man cave.”

“Aviation has always been in my DNA ever since I was born,” he said in a Facebook message. “When I heard about an auction from Facebook, I already knew I was going to have to buy something. Mid-Continent Airport has a sentimental value to me and to purchase a part of its history is priceless.”

Dang has not removed his suspended signs from the old terminal yet, but he said removing them shouldn’t be too difficult – they’re long, but not especially heavy.

“It won’t be a problem at all,” he said.

Sets of the airport’s standard Herman Miller seats were possibly the auction’s highest-interest items. Seating went for as much as $2,970 for a large lot to $1,100 for one of the smaller lots.

The money from the auction will go into the airport’s general budget for next year, said Brad Christopher, assistant director of airports.

When the Wichita City Council is budgeting for the airport next spring, it will be able to allocate the income from the Purple Wave auction into more specific projects, Christopher said.

“We don’t anticipate ahead and say, ‘Let’s forecast the revenue from the Purple Wave sale,’” Christopher said. “It’s just kind of a windfall. Call it what you will, you can’t anticipate it.”

Crews are expected to start demolition work on the concourses at the old terminal by mid- to late September, Christopher said. The main terminal building probably won’t come down until 2017, he said.

Reach Matt Riedl at 316-268-6660 or mriedl@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RiedlMatt.

Auction results

To see how much items from the Purple Wave auction sold for, check out the listing at www.purplewave.com/cgi-bin/pwdetails.cgi?150817A.

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